Seating Assessments and Pressure Mapping

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 331Moderator Moderator
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Hello everyone! It's Brooke

My husband undergoes an extensive 3 hour seating assessment by his Occupational therapist and a wound prevention nurse once per year. The appointment can be drawn out and long, but, its very necessary. 

During the appointment, a Nurse and an OT who specialize in seating and wound risk prevention asks a series of detailed questions about his care routine, bathroom routine, skincare routine, work/schoool/exercise routine, and sleeping situation. The questions are designed to assess whether or not he is at risk for developing pressure sores or wounds, and allows them to give tips, tricks and advice - or recommend better equipment - so that these issues can be prevented. After all, we all know how serious a red mark can progress into, and the health complications you want to avoid at all costs.

The team brings with them a device called a Pressure Map, a digital piece of fabric they place under the bum, between anywhere he sits or lays. This device measures the level of pressure on all areas that touch that surface in question, allowing them to better assess where problem areas lie. It also shows areas of low risk, and areas that have improved based on proper cushioning or positioning. Below is an example of "pressure areas" and the scale they use to measure those higher/lower pressure zones.



Blue usually means Zero pressure, bright red indicates problem areas - yellow indicates more pressure than is desired, and areas to watch out for. In the diagram above, the IT bands are where the red is. This usually indicates an improper cushion or seating position that needs to be changed.

We all know that knowledge IS power, and educating yourself so you are aware of your risks (and the areas you are excelling on) is so important. This tool can literally save someone with an SCI trips to the hospital, and painful sores that do not heal. Who knows that they could turn into as far as health complications..

During their visit, they pressure mapped my husbands bed - watching the reading of the pressure map as he raised and lowered his position, while telling us the angle that poses the least amount of risk for pressure. Turns out he can raise his head almost to 90 degrees without having any risk of redness. Score!

Next up was my husbands various cushions for his two chairs - they mapped them while he was seated normally, and then, during a weight shift. They indicated exactly how much he had to lean forward to attain a total and complete pressure relief weight shift - according to his body.

Then they measured his zero gravity chair to see how it was as far as cushioning and positioning. 

This process is done once per year, and then, if nothing changes as far as cushions or equipment, they do not need to pressure map again for a couple of years. 

I invite all of you to look into having this done in your community! The peace of mind you get from having this done is second to none, and it ensures that your skin stays healthy for as long as possible. 

- Brooke 
Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)
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